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Major Themes of the
Quran
Essay No.1 a in a series of essays on Community
For more info contact: [email protected]

Muslim Community: a unifying theme of the Quran

Feb 2006
By Ahmad Ibrahim

THE QURAN presents a holistic[i] view of all the aspects of
human reality, which emphasizes the importance of our nature
and the interdependence of its different parts.

THE QURAN denies nothing about actual human behavior and experience. It
tells us, through stories, metaphors and
parables, about many facts which we
already know, but often fail to appreciate because of our preoccupations. It
reminds us that our life on the face of earth is brief[ii], fragile and only
because nature, in its benevolence, has subjected its forces to our benefit[iii],
without which life on the face of this planet is incomprehensible.

The Quran tells us about our creation, our identities[iv] and also about our
shortcomings as part of this reality. It tells us that humans are hasty[v],
impatient[vi], easily deceived by the beautiful things of this life[vii], often
ungrateful[viii] to their creator and that the human self is inclined to evil[ix].

Ennoblement of humankind

But the Quran also tells us how the human condition can be improved by
overcoming these shortcomings. It tells us that God sent messengers with
scriptures for this purpose. Quran uses the metaphor ‘
to lead humankind out
of darkness into light’[x] for this process of improvement.

This metaphorical darkness is that aspect of human behavior which is
harmful to humankind. It is the inability to think beyond the life of this world,
refusal to accept the benevolence and mercy of the creator, rejection of the
power of the creator to resurrect and as a result, refusal to surrender before
the creator and instead surrender before one’s own vain desires. As a whole
this darkness dehumanizes us[xi] because of the denial of the relationship
between us and the creator[xii]. (
please read about qualities God loves and
does not love)

The opposite of this darkness is the
light which ennobles the humankind by
improving their behavior. Quran emphasizes that those who are in light are
not equal to those who are in darkness[xiii]. Those who improve their
condition will be rewarded and darkness and disgrace will never touch them
[xiv]. The Quran says that God does not change condition of people unless
they change their own state of goodness[xv].

Community the driver for change

Improvement in the human behavior is neither self acting nor a function of
time. It is also not inevitable. This improvement would be impossible without
human cooperation and organization; since cooperation is basic to human
nature and organization of groups is basic to cooperation.

Humans always form groups to solve their problems. These social groups
give identity and support to their members and bring many insights that would
be more difficult to stimulate by an individual.

The improvement, which we discussed in the previous sections, happens
when people, who believe in what God has sent towards them, cooperate and
organize and strive to change their values and condition. This is what the
Quran calls;
struggle against evil[xvi] and collectively the people who drive
this change are what the Quran calls, the community of believers or the
Muslim Community

Quran emphasizes that this community is the spirit behind the process of
improvement and maintaining the state of goodness[xvii]. The importance of
this perspective in Quran demands that Muslim Community must be given
central importance in
studying the Quran. In other words, we consider the
Muslim Community as a major unifying theme of the Quran and relate other
subjects to this theme. In the next section we discuss how this thematic
approach helps us understand the message of the Quran.

Thematic Approach in study of the Quran

The Quran bears a remarkable degree of thematic unity. This reflects the
fundamental principle of
‘Tawheed’ or doctrine of unity in the Quran. The
Quran also points to this by saying that there is no inconsistency in the book;
this being a sign of divine revelation. The Quran says,

Do you not then consider the Quran carefully? Had it been from other than
God, they would surely have found therein much contradictions [4:82].

The use of thematic approach helps us to comprehend the Quran’s message
by avoiding pitfalls and misuse of phrases by picking them out of context.
(please reads tips on
studying the Quran)

This approach organizes subject matter around major or unifying themes,
thus, building them into a whole and enabling the readers to make important
connections between them. A thematic approach more closely approximates
the human experience of how things happen than looking at information in
isolation.

A thematic approach offers many advantages.


Therefore, we have taken a thematic, rather than chronological approach -
which examines the sequence of events approach to the study of the Quran.

Some arguments favoring Community as a major unifying
theme

Professor Fazlur Rahman, writes in his book "Major themes of the Quran":

The bond of the community is strewn over all the pages of the Quran,
especially in the Madinan sura. All Muslims are declared to be "brothers" (49:
10).  They are together as impregnable "as a building reinforced with lead"
(61:4). They give priority to needy Muslims over themselves even if they
themselves are in need, and "whosoever is saved from the pettiness of his
own self, they are the successful ones" (59:9).

Some other arguments:



Notes and Reference
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[i] A theory that the universe and especially living nature is correctly seen in
terms of interacting wholes (as of living organisms) that are more than the
mere sum of elementary particles .

[ii] 18:45 And put forward to them the  example of the life of this world, it is
like the water (rain) which We send down from the sky, and the vegetation of
the earth mingles with it, and becomes fresh and green. But later it becomes
dry and broken pieces, which the winds scatter. And God is able to do
everything.

[iii] 78:6 - 16

[iv] 9:13 ‘O humankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and
made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another….”

[v] 21:37

[vi] 18:60-82

[vii] 3:14

[viii] 22:66

[ix] 12:53

[x] 14:1 , 14:5, 57:9, 65:11

[xi] 25:44 ‘Or do you think most of them hear or understand? They are only
like cattle; nay, they are even farther astray from the path’. 7:179 … They have
hearts wherewith they understand not, they have eyes wherewith they see
not, and they have ears wherewith they hear not. They are like cattle, nay even
more astray; those! They are the heedless one.

[xii] 2:6-18

[xiii] 6:122, 13:16

[xiv] 10:26

[xv] 13:11

[xvi] Jihad

[xvii] 7:181 ‘and those whom we have created, there is a community who
guides with the truth, and establishes justice therewith’. [3:103-114] ‘And hold
fast, all of you together, to the rope of God, and be not divided among
yourself……..Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting all that is
good, enjoining good things and forbidding bad things……you are the best
community raised from the humankind, you enjoin good things and you stop
from the bad things….”

[xviii] 11:48 “It was said: “O Noah! Come down with peace from Us and
blessings on you and on the people who are with you…..”

10:98 was there any town that believed and its faith saved it? – except the
people of Yunus (PBUH); …”

61:14 O you who believe! Be you like helpers of God as said Jesus (PBUH) son
of Mary (PBUH) to the disciples: “who are my helpers in the cause of God”
Disciples said “We are God’s helpers”. Then a group of Children of Israel
believed and a group disbelieved…”

11:58 and when our commandment came, we saved Hud and those who
believed with him by a Mercy from Us, and we saved them from a severe
torment.

[xix] 8:63

[xx] We counted 88 times by using phonetic search engines
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